I had an enjoyable experience last week of going to visit an engaging 86-year-old man whose profession was as an engineer. Now that he is retired his "hobby" is farming. So, he has put his analytical engineer mind to work planning, preparing, planting, harvesting and keeping meticulous records of his passion--growing corn. I learned much from him that I could use in my own pitiful make-shift garden such as:
Buy the best seeds. He orders his from a company in New York. This year he planted what is called Seneca Dancer.
Prepare the best soil. He rototills his soil.
Plan the crop. He sows the seeds in a weekly sequence so that all of the corn does not mature at once.
Fertilize. He has a special formula with %'s that he has determined work the best for his soil, weather and such.
Water--He has put in irrigation ditches and tuns them on at determined times.
Harvest-This is the part that he let me and my friends participate. You have to feel each ear to decide if it is heavy enough to pick. Then you lift the ear down, then twist it off the stalk.Each of his 34 rows of corn were numbered and labeled. We were each assigned a row. I had row # 24. We could pick as much as we wanted that were ready.Next we helped him sort his pickings from that morning into buckets labeled CHOICE, MATURE, IMMATURE and FOOD BANK. Personally, I thought all of it looked like Choice, but I guess I am not as picky as he is. We also picked young zucchini. He has many pumpkins too. Each one is labeled with the name of one of his grandchildren on it for them.
Then while we were cooking our dinner of fresh zucchini, tomatoes, and corn he has a ritual of delivering to friends and neighbors his CHOICE corn. He writes in his book how many dozen he delivers and has the recipients listed alphabetically. His goal is to deliver 160 dozen this summer.What a sweet man! His charts, all graphed out, were very impressive and detailed. As we were cooking the corn (according to his written instructions--1 minute after the water returns to a boil, a friend delivered homemade salsa and chips--YUM. His daughter had picked some peaches that day and we added a delicious peach cobbler she had made just for us to have with our farm fresh dinner. We sat at his humble table and talked and listened to his wise and sweet advice, learned of his family heritage--Italian. and met his sweet wife, Jean, who joined us (she is recovering from a broken leg). It was an enjoyable evening with "can't get any fresher than this" food.
Thanks "Farmer Dan"